Saturday, March 1, 2008

Letter from Manjit S Gill

Thank you very much for your kind mail. My family and I are touched by your comments on my late father.

I will certainly provide whatever information I can, please give me a little time.

A book on my father's life is being released at Delhi on 20th March, by Gen JFC Jacob, formerly Governor of Punjab and of course, Chief of Staff Eastern Command during the 1971 war. The Parachute Regiment has very kindly taken it upon themselves to co-ordinate the entire event, with the publishers, Penguin Books. The book will be released at the DRDO Auditorium, adjacent to South Block, on 20th March evening. The writer is Mr S. Muthaih, from Madras.

A book release at Madras will follow, probably by 15th April this year. I will let you know as soon as the arrangements are finalised by Penguin.

I will be in touch shortly,
With good wishes,

Manjit S Gill
(Son of Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill PVSM, MC)

We thank Sardar Manjit Singh Gill for sharing information with "Report my Signal Blog" Readers, in response to our post, "Remembering Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC".

Friday, February 29, 2008

Amachi Mumbai

A City where everything is possible, especially the impossible .

Where telephone bills make a person ill,
Where a person cannot sleep without a pill.

Where carbon-dioxide is more than oxygen,
Where the road is considered to be a dustbin,

Where college canteens are full and classes empty,
Where Adam teasing is also making an entry,

Where a cycle reaches faster than a car,
Where everyone thinks himself to be a star,

Where sky scrapers overlook the slum,
Where houses collapse as the monsoon comes,

Where people first act and then think,
Where there is more water in the pen than ink,

Where the roads see-saw in monsoon,
Where the beggars become rich soon,

Where the roads are levelled when the minister arrives,

Where college admission means hard cash,
Where cement is frequently mixed with ash.

This is Mumbai my dear, But don't fear, just cheer, come to Mumbai every year!

VA Subramanyam
Brig (Retd)

Alcohol Abuse in the Armed Forces

Stress, Alcohol and smoking can have adverse and disastrous effects on serving soldiers and Ex Servicemen. The family members are the immediate ones who bear the brunt of those who are stressed and addicted to alcohol and smoking. In the Army even an Army Order was introduced to curb the growing tendency of alcoholism. What happens to alcoholics boarded out of service? The families suffer the most. Many studies have been carried by out under the aegis of DGAFMS. Though statistics showing cases of Alcohol dependence syndrome is encouraging, but what is alarming is the upward growth trend.

Remedial Measures
Alcoholics suffer and hence it is a disease which needs to be treated. The issues are complex and there is no set or proven method of cure. Stress and anxiety are only contributory factors which needs to be addressed. Restrictions alone cannot succeed. Family and Group therapy as advocated by medical advisers can partially help the individuals. The only logical solution lies in Leaders showing the right way by personal example, conduct and motivation for the juniors to emulate.

It is easy to conjure up a reason for suicides and fratricides like Frayed Nerves, Stress, low morale, bad service conditions, lack of leave, communication gap and even attribute to unattractive pay! Really the issues are of Leadership. Once you have the right Leader in place all these issues just vanish into thin air.

Welfare is the most important aspect which gets neglected. Honour and Prestige of a soldier must be maintained while in service and also when he is out in the civilian world as an Ex Serviceman. The entitlements of a Soldier must be administered to him cent percent. What happens is that standards get diluted down the chain of command. The quality and quantity of his entitlement, be it rations, personnel attire, clothing and so on get awfully reduced, diluted and at times sub- standard. The Regimental Funds which are there for Welfare of Troops hardly finds its way to mitigate a Soldier in distress.

Public Relations Officer
Spokesman Col SK Sakhuja says soldiers kill each other when one of them perceives that they are being harassed by superiors or when they have heated arguments among themselves. Our foundations are strong. Indian Army's biggest enemy-Stress

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Awesome! B_O_M_B_A_Y

Bombay has no bombs and is a harbour not a bay.
Churchgate has neither a church nor a gate. It is a railway station.
There is no darkness in Andheri.
Lalbaag is neither red nor a garden.
No king ever stayed at Kings Circle .
Nor did Queen Victoria stay at Victoria Terminus.
Nor is there any princess at Princess Street .
Lower Parel is at the same level as Parel
There are no marines or sailors at Marine Lines.
The Mahalaxmi temple is at Haji Ali not at Mahalaxmi.
There are no pigs traded at Dukar bazaar.
Teen bati is a junction of 3 roads, not three lamps.
Trams used to terminate at Kings circle not Dadar* Tram Terminus (Dadar T.T.).
Breach Candy is not a sweetmeat market, but there is a Hospital.
Safed Pool has the dirtiest and blackest water.
You cannot buy coal at Kolsa street.
There are no Iron smiths at Lohar chawl.
There are no pot makers at Kumbhar wada.
Lokhandwala complex is not an Iron and steel market.
Null bazaar does not sell taps.
You will not find ladyfingers at Bheendi Bazaar.
Kalachowki does not have a black Police station.
Hanging Gardens are not suspended.
Mirchi Gully does not sell chillies.
Figs do not grow in Anjir Wadi.
Sitafals do not grow in Sitafal Wadi,
Jackfruits do not grow at Fanaswadi.
But it is true that you may get fleeced at Chor Bazaar!

VA Subramanyam
Brig (Retd)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Remembering Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC

Inderjit Gill was born in Madras, Southern India, in 1919, the son of a Royal Medical Corps officer who later became Inspector General of Prisons in the province. As Madras's head jailer, his father became friendly with the political activist Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, who was frequently imprisoned during the freedom struggle against the colonial government. After independence in 1947 Rajagopalachari became the first Indian Governor- General and the friendship between inmate and jailer persevered and led to Gill's father's making Madras his home. The famous Gill Nagar is a tribute to Gill's ancestry and roots in Chennai.

After schooling in Madras, Gill went to England to study but ended up joining the Royal Engineers in 1942, volunteering for Operation Harling and spent the remainder of the war involved in undercover operations in the Mediterranean sector. His well publicised feats reportedly led to his being the inspiration behind the fictitious Lt Kip in Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize and the 1996 film of which reaped several Oscars. Like Gill, the actor Naveen Andrews who played the role of Kip in the film had his roots in Madras.

Gill returned home just before independence in 1947 and nine years later commanded the elite 1 Para Regiment which was part of the United Nations peacekeeping contingent in Egypt and the Sinai. During the second war with Pakistan in 1965 Gill, then commanding a parachute brigade, used his Second World War experience as a guerrilla fighter to track down hundreds of Pakistani infiltrators in Kashmir.

Twenty four years later, as the Indian Army's Director, Military Operations, Gill, then a major-general, once again displayed the same soldierly qualities and blunt reasonableness by planning and executing the defeat of the Pakistani army in 1971. He never left his operational headquarters for the fortnight- long war that ended with the capture of over 91,000 Pakistani soldiers and the formation of Bangladesh. A few months later he was responsible for delineating the line of control that divided the northern disputed Kashmir state between the rival claimants, India and Pakistan.

Legendary exploits Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill by Kuldip Singh

Recent picture of Lt Gen Inder Gill (on the right) with the demolition member. Find details at Operation Harling Sep 1942. Lt Gen inderjit Singh Gill PVSM, MC, passed away on May 30, 2001.

It is a refreshing departure to read about the life and times of a dedicated, principled officer and a gentleman, who shunned fame or media plaudits for his brilliant military career, and who many thought should have made it to the post of Army Chief. Lieutenant-General Gill is unfortunately no more, but that is no reason not to find his conduct and values worth emulating, as Muthiah as seen fit to announce in the book titled "The Tales of an officer and a Gentleman", reviewed by Sreya Ray.

The Life of Lt Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC
Born to Dare by S Muthiah

English Patient
Naveen Andrews starring as Lt Kip Singh, the Sikh with a talent for defusing bombs who finds a romantic connection with co-star Juliet Binoche- the English patient's nurse- in the Academy Award-winning romantic epic, Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel "The English Patient". It is believed that Lt Kip, the Sikh Sapper is modelled from real life exploits of Inderjit Singh Gill the WWII British Sapper demolition expert in Greece, 1942, who subsequently joined the Indian Army Para Brigade in 1947.

XI Corps Signal Regiment 1956

Left: Brig Iyappa the Director Signals on a visit to regiment With CO and other Officers
Right: Corps Birthday Celebrations The Cycle Rickshaw Race, Mrs Pettengell the passenger

On posting to XI Corps Signals Regiment, after the YO's Course at School of Signals Mhow, located at Jalandhar, the then Lt Col Pettengel was my first Commanding officer. Holidays were over for now and as regimental officers we were driven really hard, good in more than one way as it did make us tough mentally and physically the reason for the whip being used so often and hard I learnt much later.

The reason as to why the regiment was being run the way it was became clear years later when I had already retired and while researching for my book "Letters from the Border" had visited late Lt Gen EG Pettengell PVSM MBE who in 1992 was then settled in Dehradun and lead a quiet life shared with his friends a lovely dog and a bit of Golf. On learning of the early demise of my wife he was kind enough to share his own trauma on the untimely passing away of Mrs Pettengell. He took me down the memory lane about the wonderful albeit hard days in XI Corps Signal Regiment.

It did throw a light as to why we were driven so hard by him. He had assumed command of the Regiment; the only Corps Signal Regiment those days when it had just been declared unfit for war. The Corps Commander Lt Gen Kulwant Singh had given him two months to put it back on rails. The quickest way was to drive the regiment on the route of Drill, Weapon Training, Physical Training and sprucing and up the Quarter Guard the show- piece of any unit. He did succeed in satisfying the Corps Commander in the process, we especially the young officers had to go through a rough and hard time.

Brig Lakshman Singh VSM (Retd)

Report My Signal Blog Team thanks Brig Lakshman for sharing and recollecting his days in the famous XI Corps Signal Regiment. Other CO's one remembers are Brig RA Rajan, Maj Gen YK Gera, Brig VA Subramanyam and Brig AK Sharma. All of them were excellent Golfers too.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Travails of ESM

Whatever may be the claims of the Army authorities and the civil administration regarding the rehabilitation and welfare of ESM, the former soldiers are at the mercy of private security agencies when it comes to getting a job.
The attitude of the political parties is also apathetic. The ESM are being hired on a contract basis for peanuts, at about Rs 2,500 per month, is outrageous.

Full story at ESM a Harried Lot

The same status prevails in all the 28 States and 7 Union Territories of India. Ninety Five percent of ESM are simple Jawans, after having served in the Armed Forces for approximately 20 years, are literally taken for ride in the civilian Job Market. The pittance paid to a honourable Soldier is despicable and the current trend needs to to be corrected. The guidelines laid down for employment of ESM, as security personnel, are flouted at all levels. The enforcing agencies have no teeth nor clout to deal with the erring State Governments. The monitoring and overseeing agency DGR should be armed with constitutional powers to streamline and reduce dishonour being meted (if not showered) to our Jawans. The outfit, attire and gear worn by Jawans employed by Security Agencies is comical at times. These are the reasons for general slide of Military prestige amongst civilian population. Can we set this straight?
On the other hand States are vying to give cash handouts to gallantry award winners ranging from mere Rs 15,000 to lavish Rs 15 lakhs (hundredfold jump). It certainly does bring out the competitive spirit amongst states, but at the expense of uniform evaluation of courage and sacrifice. This has utterly baffled and perplexed the authorities of the Armed Forces! Are the states playing truant to outwit each other or is it a political gimmick, or is it truly out of genuine concern for the welfare of the courageous Jawan. How can each State Government's magnanimity be made more meaningful if not uniform?

Officer Shortages and Sixth Pay Commission

Chief of Defence Staff
The armed forces will get a chief of defence staff (CDS) as a single point reference to advise the government on military matters once the structures to support the institution are in place, says the Indian Army chief.
'It is an evolutionary process and it should, therefore, follow, that the CDS must come into existence,' Gen. Deepak Kapoor said in a TV interview.
'The fact that the CDS must come about is not in doubt. What is in doubt is when it should happen,' Kapoor told CNBC-TV18's Karan Thapar, adding: 'The CDS will enable the government to get a one point reference on matters military.'

Quicker Decisions
The creation of a CDS was one of the recommendations of a high-powered committee that examined the conduct of the 1999 border conflict that occurred after Pakistani intruders occupied the heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir. The committee felt that a CDS would ensure quicker decisions on matters where the three services were required to act in tandem and to resolve whatever differences might exist on this.
The government accepted the recommendation in 2000 with the caveat that what was first required was the creation of a chief of integrated defence staff (CIDS) to synergise the functioning of the three services. This system has been put into place and is functioning successfully.

Theatre commands
According to Kapoor, a CDS 'is only one part of the issue. Before that, there will be theatre commands which will be joint commands. Therefore, the integration would have come in at lower levels'.
'It is better the CDS comes into existence once the other structures are in place. A large number of those structures are currently coming into place,' he added.
Asked whether it would be two-three years before a CDS was appointed, the army chief replied: 'Maybe it will take longer than two-three years. It depends on how fast we move in putting the structures in place.'
He also agreed that the CDS could be picked from any of the three services.
'The CDS could well be an army, navy or air force man. It's very much possible and it is perhaps inbuilt into the thought process,' Kapoor contended, in a statement that could put at rest apprehensions amongst the other two services that the army would attempt to monopolise the position.

Officer Shortages
Answering a question on the shortfall of officers, the army chief said: 'The issue is of concern and from whatever measures we have taken, the deficiency levels that were touching 12,000 four to five years ago have dropped to a little over 11,000.
'The fact remains that when a young man completes his schooling and looks for avenues outside, he would look at opportunities like engineering, medicine or the corporate sector as he finds all these much more attractive compared to the armed forces,' he added.

Sixth Pay Commission
In this context, he hoped that the Sixth Pay Commission that is currently examining the pay and perks of government employees would be 'positive' toward the armed forces.
'There has been good interaction (with the commission) and even the raksha mantri (Defence Minister AK Antony) has met the chairman. They are quite positive and we are hopeful that their recommendations should be positive toward the armed forces.
'Let's see what comes about finally,' Kapoor added.

CDS will be reality
India eNews, Monday, February 25, 2008

The number of Armed Forces Personnel seeking civil justice is on the increase. Will increasing salary alone resolve the exodus of serving Officers? Is there any in house mechanism to examine the increasing discontentment of all ranks? Serious thought must be given to address issues which are generally swept under the carpet.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

History of IMA

Here are some more facts about the history of the IMA. These are taken from Sam Manekshaw's biography, which is part of my book LEADERSHIP IN THE INDIAN ARMY - BIOGRAPHIES OF TWELVE SOLDIERS.

Skeen Committee
The Skeen Committee, set up in 1925, had recommended the establishment of an Indian Sandhurst by 1933. To work out details of the proposed military training college, the Government had appointed the Indian Military College Committee, in early 1931. The Committee was chaired by Sir Philip Chetwode, and had a large number of service and civilian members. After detailed deliberation, the Committee submitted its report on 15 July 1931. It recommended establishment of a college to train Indians for commissions in the Indian Army, after an examination to be conducted by the Public Service Commission. The course was to be of three years duration, with the age of entry between 18 and 20 years. On graduation, officers would be granted Indian Commissions, which would be signed by the Viceroy. (The Commissions of officers graduating from Sandhurst were signed by the King). The total fee would be Rupees 4,600, which would cover tuition, board, lodging, uniforms, books and pocket money. Indian Army cadets would be exempted from the fees, and given a stipend of 60 rupees per month. After getting their commissions, the officers would be given the rank of Second Lieutenants, with a monthly salary of 300 rupees.

One of the important points which the Committee considered was the location of the proposed college. It had to be centrally located, easily accessible, with a temperate climate all the year round, and adequate accommodation as well as space for future expansion. The presence of a military garrison in the vicinity was also desirable. After considering over a dozen locations, the Committee short listed three - Dehradun, Mhow and Satara. Finally Dehradun was selected, because of its central location, climate, proximity to the PWRIMC, and the fact that the Railway Staff College was closing down, and its accommodation was readily available.

The three Poineers
Early in 1932, it was announced that an examination for entrance to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) would be conducted in June or July. Sam took some money from his mother, went to Delhi and appeared in the entrance examination on 14 July 1932. There were a total of 40 vacancies - 15 selected through open competition, 15 from the Army and 10 from the Indian State Forces. Only 15 cadets were selected and Sam was sixth in order of merit. The first Commandant was Brigadier L.P. Collins, DSO, and the staff was carefully selected to ensure that the standards were kept at par with those at Sandhurst. Training commenced on 1 October 1932, though the Academy was formally inaugurated on 10 December 1932 by the C-in-C, Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode, Bart, GCB, GCSI, KCMG, DSO. The first batch, called 'The Pioneers', had three future Chiefs - Manekshaw rose to head the Army in India, Smith Dun in Burma and Mohd Musa in Pakistan.

Maj Gen VK Singh (Retd)
Military Historian

Copies are available at reduced price from Air Sp Sig Regt in Delhi for units, serving personnel and ESM.

Photograph. Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode, 1st Baron Chetwode, 7th Baronet of Oakley GCB OM GCSI KCMG DSO (21 September, 1869– 06 July 1950) was a British cavalry officer who became Commander in Chief in India. Famous Chetwode Hall of IMA.

Memoir of Lt Col John Hislop of IX Jat Regiment

Readers may be interested to know that in 1992 my father wrote an 180,000 word memoir of his time as an officer in the IX Jat Regiment from 1934-1947. He wrote it by hand in hard-to-read, tiny, backward sloping writing in 8 exercise books. A year later he was dead and I found the books tied up with string in a drawer of his desk. I could not read it at first, as it was too painful to hear his voice as I read the words he had written. But over the years I got it typed up, cut out the repetition and moved it on from the stream of anecdotal stories to a readable version, and I am hoping to get it published sometime in the summer of this year.

For someone who was not a writer he wrote a surprisingly readable account of his life as an Indian army officer. And what a life, it has been a revelation to me, as from knowing virtually nothing about these matters, I have become familiar with aspects of the pre- Independence Indian army, the war in Malaya and the fall of Singapore, fighting in Burma, and, most important of all, I have learnt a great deal about my father. I have also learnt that people nowadays have almost no understanding of the pre- Independence Indian army, especially those younger than me, and perhaps it is an age and generational thing, so the memoir now contains a number of explanations written by me about the composition of the Indian army and other aspects of India and the time.

For those of you interested in reading this memoir I can tell that he served in the following places: Landi Kotal; Shagai Fort; Ambala, Chaman; Hyderabad, Sind; Fort Sandeman; Hyderbadad, Deccan; Malaya; Jullunder; Waziristan; Burma and Delhi HQ. And you can get an idea of what the memoir might be like from a website I designed a couple of years ago

When the memoir is published I shall either amend that website or design another one with details of how you can get copies of the book.
With best wishes to all readers of Report My Signal Blog.

Mrs Penny Kocher
Daughter of Lt Col John Archibald Hislop
24 Feb 2008
Memoir of Lt Col John Hislop of IX Jat Regiment


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